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Achilles Character Analysis

Achilles is a hero in Greek mythology and a character in Homer’s epic poem the Iliad. Aristotle refers to Homer’s portrayal of Achilles as a character with bad traits who is still depicted as a good person; Aristotle argues that such character (morality) should be a poet’s aim. Achilles kills Hector, but Homer still manages to make Achilles look like a good and moral man overall.

Achilles Quotes in Poetics

The Poetics quotes below are all either spoken by Achilles or refer to Achilles. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of Poetics published in 1997.
Chapter 8 Quotes

Since tragedy is an imitation of people better than we are, one should imitate good portrait-painters. In rendering the individual form, they paint people as they are, but make them better-looking. In the same way the poet who is imitating people who are irascible or lazy or who have other traits of character of that sort should portray them as having these characteristics, but also as decent people. For example, Homer portrayed Achilles as both a good man and a paradigm of obstinacy.

Related Characters: Aristotle (speaker), Homer, Achilles
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

Homer deserves praise for many reasons, but above all because he alone among poets is not ignorant of what he should do in his own person. The poet in person should say as little as possible; that is not what makes him an imitator. Other poets perform in person throughout, and imitate little and seldom; but after a brief preamble Homer introduces a man or a woman or some other character—and none of them are characterless: they have character.

Related Characters: Aristotle (speaker), Homer, Achilles
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

While it is true that astonishment is an effect which should be sought in tragedy, the irrational (which is the most important source of astonishment) is more feasible in epic, because one is not looking at the agent. The pursuit of Hector would seem preposterous on stage, with the others standing by and taking no part in the pursuit while Achilles shakes his head to restrain them; but in epic it escapes notices.

Related Characters: Aristotle (speaker), Homer, Achilles, Hector
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:
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Achilles Character Timeline in Poetics

The timeline below shows where the character Achilles appears in Poetics. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8. Other Aspects of Tragedy
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
Imitation  Theme Icon
Fear, Pity, and Catharsis Theme Icon
Component Parts and Balance  Theme Icon
...characters who have bad traits should be portrayed as good people, like Homer’s portrayal of Achilles. (full context)